By Chris DePew
Jan. 3, 2017
Where to watch: Alabama (7-5) at Mississippi State (9-3) – Today 7:30 p.m. Central, Humphrey Coliseum, SEC Network
Who to watch: Dazon Ingram. Unless Corban Collins makes a surprise return after missing the last two games with a groin injury, Ingram is likely to again shift from the point to the off-guard spot, which would set up a fascinating matchup against MSU sophomore Quinndary Weatherspoon. Weatherspoon averages just over 19 points a game and can bury teams from 3-point range (21-for-47) and rebounds at a slightly higher clip than Ingram (4.7 rpg vs. 4.6). Ingram is more of a ball distributor than pure shooter, but his 9.7 points per game ties him with Braxton Key for the team lead. He and Bama are at their best when he drives to the basket. His left-handed layups can catch defenders off-balance, generate trips to the foul line and also set up opportunities to kick the ball outside for quality 3-point attempts. Mature beyond his years, Ingram will need every bit of his poise in his SEC debut.
What to watch for: Can the Crimson Tide seize the moment and break through with a road victory? Alabama has been gifted with as gentle an introduction to league play as it could hope for. State inflated its record with an easy non-conference schedule, but still took its lumps against Central Florida, Lehigh and East Tennessee. The Bulldogs enter conference play with the youngest roster in all of Division I. With Florida the only daunting opponent in an upcoming stretch that includes Vanderbilt, LSU and Missouri, a 4-1 start in SEC play is possible and 3-2 is the bare minimum if Alabama expects to have a successful season. Last year’s best stretch of success started with a gutsy win in Starkville and there’s no reason the Tide can’t match that tonight.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris